We went to our holiday department lunch there. I had a bad feeling when I saw the line of people out the door and no one at the reception booth. I suspected at that point that they were understaffed for today, possibly for the season. But that was only the beginning...
There were nine of us. We were crammed into a table in a byway mostly occupied by (unused) buffet tables, that were probably set up for the evening. If I slid in, my knees hit the center support of the table. If I slid out a few inches, the waiters passing by tripped over the back legs of my chair. It was definitely the narrows passing into the back room, going past us, and Jennifer and I, who occupied this aisle, took to spontaneously doing a hunch-and-duck as full trays of food passed directly over our heads. It was an accident waiting to happen, which of course did (more on that, later).
Service was slow. It took next to forever to get our drinks (more on that, later, too), and the appetizers were after them by a good deal. Thank heaven for bread... And then, as we were waiting for our entrees, the accident we had been anticipating hit. Something hit something behind me. A ceasar salad went down my back and into Sylvia's purse. We barely got a grunt of "sorry" from the waiter as I had Jennifer help me mop dressing off my sweater and Sylvia fished lettuce and croutons out of her purse. Some busboy types materialized a few minutes later and cleaned the mess off the floor, which the waiters had been stepping over on their way to the back room. No one even inquired about the diners who had been doused with salad. I got the impression they didn't care. After all, they were packed and the place was jumping. They didn't need us to be there, so why should anyone care, even to the point on say, offering a free drink refill or something.
The food was okay, but nothing to write home about. My chicken in walnut/pomegranite sauce was okay, but kind of dry and somewhat tough. Sylvia said her yellowtail tuna was old and fishy, which they were trying to mask with spicy sauce. As we were eating, we watched them bringing giant nutcracker figures from some storage outside, and start parking the components outside the door leading inside, near us. We got a bad feeling. This was soon justified as workmen jockeyed a giant nutcracker base into place, bumping into the backs of several of our party before setting it into place outside the entry to the now infamous back room. Another oil-drum-sized nutcracker component was levitated over our heads, since I think they figured the low carry hadn't worked well with the base. Again, we ducked. There was a conference with the manager, as the area to the other side of the entry was occupied by a table full of lunch diners. They were approached and handed their check and apparently told to hustle on out of there, as they needed to set up where they were eating! Muttering and sipping the last of their drinks as they stood up and gathered belongings, they headed out. I commented to Sylvia that everything was adding up to a Tony Bourdain evaluation of "restaurant with issues going on."
Since I have a dinner tonight with the old Stratus folks, I passed on dessert, but got coffee. The coffee was good. My boss got the "baklava" which looked more like walnut struedel, drenched in serious amounts of Redi-whip, like someone had gone crazy in the kitchen, and he said was heavy as a brick. Then the check came, and there was a shock and mutterings as he tried to puzzle it out. It seems that every refill of every drink, which they had studiously replaced as we dined, including the coffee, was a separate charge. And, of course, there was a large-party gratuity of 20% automatically included. I wonder if there was an extra charge for the salad served into purses and sweaters, at that rate! He paid it all, which added up to around $350 for the nine of us, but wasn't happy. I joked I was the cheap date, because I hadn't gotten a refill on anything, and I hadn't eaten dessert.
I wouldn't ever go back there, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else go there, either. I don't think they care. They seem to be getting a lot of business, even treating their customers shabbily, so why should they? Can I give them negative stars?